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New Tau Codex 6th Edition Review Warhammer 40k - Part 2 - HQ

Updated on June 23, 2016
New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition HQ
New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition HQ


Murphy, here (@BenMurphy), back to look at the generic HQ units for the Tau army in 6th edition Warhammer 40k. In my last review, I looked over the army special rules, including army rules, Warlord Traits, and rules for Drones and marker lights. You can read that article by clicking the link below:

In this article, I'm going to look at the rules for the generic HQ choices for the Tau army. Every army needs leaders, and none more so that the Tau, whose warriors submit to the absolute authority and vision of their military commanders and social leaders. I almost hate the word generic characters because in every codex you can make some amazing units with the right combination of wargear and special options. The Tau are no different, so let's dive in!

New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition Commanders
New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition Commanders


Commanders are the highest ranked Fire Warriors in the Tau empire and they are called shas'o in their alien language. Equipped with the powerful crisis battlesuit, they are flexible, mobile, and well-armed characters.

  • Jet pack infantry
  • WS 4 and BS 5
  • Str 5 and T 4 with 4 wounds
  • 4 base attacks
  • Equipped with the Crisis battlesuit
  • Supporting Fire special rule

They may also take a set of 2 Crisis suit body guards that have a range of equipment similar to the Commander (see below). These body guards have a rule that allows the Commander to automatically pass his Look Out, Sir! tests.

So what does the Crisis battlesuit do?

  • 3+ armor save
  • Blacksun Filters - Night Vision and immune to Blind
  • Multitracker - model can fire an additional shooting weapon (so 2 for the Commander)
  • Unit is jetpack infantry

So how do you customize a Tau Commander? There's a lot you can do here!

  • Up to 4 options from Ranged Weapons and/or Support Systems
  • Take items from the Signature Systems list
  • Up to 2 drones from the drone list.

So what are all these options?

New Tau Codex 6th Edition Review Wargear
New Tau Codex 6th Edition Review Wargear

Tau Wargear

The Tau wargear options are strange and alien to me. Unlike Eldar technology, which often borders on the mystical, Tau technology seems like the result of advanced electronics and manufacturing; a true future warfare force. These wargear options are available to Tau Commanders, but will also serve as a reference to other units who use these items.

Ranged Weapons:

  • flamer
  • burst cannon - 18" Str 5 AP 5 Assault 4
  • airburst fragmentation projector - 18" Str 4 AP 5, Assault 1, Barrage, Ignores Cover, Large Blast
  • cyclic ion blaster - 18" Str 7 AP 4 Assault 3 or 18" Str 8 AP AP 5 and Heavy 1, Blast, Gets Hot
  • fusion blaster - 18" Str 8 AP 1 Assault 1 Melta
  • missile pod - 36" Str 7 AP 4 Assault 2
  • plasma rifle - 24" Str 6 AP 2 Rapid Fire

A lot of these options can be bought as twin-linked, which takes up weapon slots.

Support Systems:

  • advanced targeting system - precision shots on 5+
  • counterfire defense system - overwatch with BS 2 instead of 1 (5's to hit)
  • early warning override - gains Interceptor special rule
  • positional relay - while model is 6" from any table edge, Outflankers can automatically choose that edge to arrive in.
  • target lock - gains Split Fire
  • vectored retro-thrusters - gains Fleet and Hit & Run
  • drone controller - drones in same unite fire at model's BS
  • stimulant injector - Feel No Pain
  • velocity tracker - can choose to use Skyfire or not when shooting
  • shield generator - 4+ invulnerable save

Signature Systems: these special items can only be taken once per army.

  • Neuroweb Systems Jammer - Target enemy within 12" during enemy shooting phase, their weapons have Get Hot for their turn.
  • Onager Gauntlet - Forgo other melee for a single Str 10 AP 1 attack.
  • Failsafe Detonator - If killed in melee, explodes in Str 5 large blast.
  • Repulsor Impact Field - Versus a charging unit, d6 Str 4 hits at Initiative 10.
  • Command and Control Node - If model doesn't fire, models in same unit can re-roll misses.
  • Puretide Engram Neurochip - At start of Movement Phase, choose: Counter Attack, Furious Charge, Monster Hunter, Tank Hunter, or Stubborn
  • Multispectrum Sensor Suite - If model doesn't shoot, models in same unit gain Ignore Cover (can be combined with C&C Node above).
  • XV8-02 Crisis 'Irididium' Battlesuit - +1 Toughness and 2+ armor save.

Drones: details can be found here in Tau Codex Review - Part 1

  • Gun Drone
  • Marker Drone
  • Missile Drone
  • Shield Drone

New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition Ethereal
New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition Ethereal


Ethereals are the social leaders of the Tau, members of the Ethereal Caste. They are not military figures due to their might (they are pretty weak), but their leadership skills often put them in charge of Tau forces. They don't have the wargear options available to Commanders, but their special abilities make up for that.

  • Weak stats . . . almost 3's across the board, but only 2 wounds.
  • Leadership of 10
  • Stubborn
  • Failure is Not an Option - all Tau units within 12" can use the Ethereal's leadership, however, in missions that use VP's, your opponent gains an extra VP for killing the Ethereal.
  • Invocation of the Elements (choose 1 at the start of your Movement Phase) and all Tau, non-vehicle units within 12" gain the following benefit.
  • Calm of Tides (water) - units gain Stubborn
  • Storm of Fire (fire) - models gain an extra attack with pulse weapons at half range (this means 3 shots for each fire warriors at 15")
  • Sense of Stone (earth) - units gain Feel No Pain
  • Zephyr's Grace (air) - units can fire Snap Shots after running

As far as options, the Ethereal may take:

  • Honor Blade - melee, +2 Str, two handed
  • Two equalisers - melee, Str user, AP 4
  • Blacksun Filter
  • Homing Beacon - friendly models do not scatter if Deep Striking within 6"
  • May take up to 2 Drones

Murphy's Take:

I like Ethereals because they are force multipliers. They make your other units better. Their Storm of Fire ability alone, is amazing. A unit of 12 fire warriors is going to pump out 36 Strength 5 attacks within 15". Considering this ability is given to every unit within 12" . . . that's a lot of firepower!!

New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition Cadre Fireblade
New Tau Codex Review 6th Edition Cadre Fireblade

Cadre Fireblade

Cadre Fireblades are like Commanders without Crisis Battlesuits. They ignore all the special wargear options available to Commanders to mix it up with the troops on the ground.

  • BS 5
  • 3 Wounds
  • Leadership 9
  • Pulse Rifle, Photon Grenades
  • Markerlight
  • May purchase up to 2 drones

Special Rules:

  • Split Fire
  • Supporting Fire
  • Volley Fire - If the Fireblade and his unit remain stationary, their pulse weapons each fire an additional shot

Murphy's Take:

The Cadre Fireblades are your cheap HQ option, at way less than 100 points. They give you access to a markerlight, and with the Split Fire rule, you wont have to waste the unit's firing to get it. Also, with his special ability, you are pumping out additional shots with his unit . . . and combined with the Ethereal's Storm of Fire ability, that is a lot of shots!

Which HQ will lead your Tau army?

See results

On to Troops!

I hope this review has been helpful so far! For me, its helped me organize the stats on all that new wargear, that I am sure is new to many of you readers as well. There are so many weapon and system combinations available to Commanders, that will translate to Crisis suits when we get to them.

I simply am amazed at the technology the Tau possess! It makes the Imperium look like they really are stuck in the Dark Ages. I can't wait to get to the Troops and the Elites section, so if you can't wait, either click below:

Before you move on, though, why not take the poll above and then leave a comment down below. We've had a number of great discussions in other articles, including finding mistakes that I've made in the article! Stay a minute and tell us what you think.

However, if you want to take a break from these blue-skinned aliens, take a gander at some of my other 6th edition Warhammer 40k article.

Thanks for reading. Murphy Out!


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    • murphy80 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks! I edited the article to correct it. I appreciate the reads and the feedback.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Minor correction: air caste are messengers and the air/space force. Ethereals are of their own "ethereal" caste.

    • murphy80 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      Ray, I agree :) I have nothing against special characters as they often do add an element of "shared narrative" to the game. When both players are familiar with the character, they both get a feeling when something cool has happened. The other month when I was playing Lucius, he was eventually killed by a terminator captain. While I think I managed to overwhelm the surviving captain with cultists a round or two later, my opponent quipped "at least I killed Lucius in a challenge!". Fun game!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Some special characters are either to useful to your army or just to fun not to use every once in a while, just look at lucius's story, you kill him you become him he is too fun not to use.

    • murphy80 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      That's not a bad load out! I actually love "generic" characters because you can customize them and write a story of your own to to with them. I honestly didn't use a single special character in all of 5th edition. I have broken down in 6th edition and used Abaddon and Lucius the Eternal many times, but I've actually gone back to running "generic" sorcerers and dark apostles for my Night Lords army. Go figure.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I so agree with you on the whole 'generic' commander thing it is a major insult, I mean look at what andy did with the autarch, get the right load out and you can do who knows what you can pull off

      I might give the cylic ion blaster, plasma rifle, target lock, and the impact field with a missile drone and marker drone to the commander. don't know if it will work well, but it's an idea.

    • murphy80 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the correction. I was trying to say, "fire at BS 2 instead of hitting on a 6" but I got criss-crossed with my thoughts. I fixed it! And thanks for liking the Murphy's Take's! I did put some small ones in there, but there were almost too many options for the Commander to really have a strong opinion on yet. I will go back and edit it with more detail once I've gone over Troops and a few vehicles. I'm just not sure what the Commander should bring yet, without really knowing what the rest of the army can do :)

    • murphy80 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      I suppose so. The codex says they can purchase 4 weapons or systems. The wargear list gives costs for single weapons and for two-weapons, which it says are treated as twin linked. What if you didn't want them twin linked? I suppose you could purchase the weapon twice at full price. Good point!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Correct me if im wrong. But can't the suits now take the same gun twice instead of twinlinked?

    • Xarin profile image


      5 years ago from Apeldoorn

      few quick corrections:

      "counterfire defense system - overwatch with BS 2 instead of 6 "doesn't seem like much of an upgrade to me ;) otherwise interesting article but I'm missing the in-depth of the "murphy's take" compared to your other articles


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